Joe Thornton and Jason Spezza grew up in the era of wooden sticks and clutching-and-grabbing and the two-line pass.
You might be inclined to label the Toronto Maple Leafs teammates as dinosaurs because they’ve each got hockey memories and NHL experiences stretching back longer than some of the game’s young stars have walked this earth.
But the truth is they’re more like unicorns, and they’ve played a significant role in Toronto’s league-best .783 points percentage through 23 games.
Consider what they share in common beyond wisdom, good humour and an avalanche of games played: Thornton and Spezza are both on a $700,000 contract, the minimum amount allowable under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
And they’re outperforming their twice-monthly pay cheques by a wide margin.
Of the 24 NHL players who have appeared in 10 or more games this season on a $700,000 contract, none have more goals (five), points (12) or points per hour (2.94) than Spezza. And none come close to matching Thornton’s points per game (.91), goals-for percentage (75 per cent) or Corsi-for percentage (57.9 per cent) in a year where he’s missed time with a rib fracture and undisclosed lower-body issue.